Allergies Have Chronic Symptoms
COVID-19, like the flu or common cold, is an acute illness, meaning people feel fine until symptoms start showing up.
Allergies, on the other hand, are usually chronic, presenting with symptoms off and on for weeks, months, or even years, Dr. David M. Cutler, family medicine physician at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Healthline.
Allergies should not cause a fever or body aches, Arthur said. Generally, no cough unless you have a lot of nasal drainage.
Conversely, itchy eyes and facial pain are more typical of allergies than a COVID-19 infection.
Allergies may also cause wheezing, she said, especially in people with asthma.
Allergy symptoms tend to vary with the environment: worsening with exposure to dust, pollen, or animal dander, whereas cold symptoms tend to persist regardless of time of day, weather, locality, or other environmental factors, Cutler said.
Also, as with COVID-19, colds are more likely to have generalized symptoms like fever, headache, and body aches, whereas allergies usually affect only the respiratory tract, Cutler said.
Allergy symptoms tend to improve with antihistamine and other allergy-specific medication, he said. Colds are more likely to respond to decongestants, acetaminophen, fluids, and rest.
The CDC issued guidance on the differences in symptoms between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies.
What Causes Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis
There are more than 300 known allergens that, when inhaled as a fine dust, can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Some breathing problems have names based on where the allergen comes from:
- Farmers lung. Seen in farmers and cattle workers, this condition is caused by inhaling mold that grows on hay, straw, and grain.
- Bird fanciers lung. Also called pigeon breeders disease, this condition is caused by inhaling dust specks from feathers or droppings of many types of birds.
- Humidifier lung. This condition can develop by inhaling a fungus that grows in humidifiers, air conditioners, and heating systems, especially if they are not cleaned regularly.
- Hot tub lung. This condition may develop by inhaling germs found in the water mist coming from indoor hot tubs.
Use Our Pollen Calendar
To work out which pollen sets off your hay fever, note the days and weeks when your symptoms are bad. Use our pollen calendar to see which pollen could be your trigger, and when its likely to be released.
Check the pollen forecast from the Met Office daily through the season if you know youre triggered.
Find useful tips from the NHS on how to treat yourself with hay fever.
See our information on hay fever treatments for more about antihistamines, nasal sprays, eye drops and other top tips to deal with symptoms of hay fever. This will help you cut your risk of an asthma attack or a flare up of your lung condition symptoms.
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What Causes Shortness Of Breath
Dyspnea, or shortness of breath, is generally an indicator of heart or lung problems, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Cardiac-induced shortness of breath usually happens when your heart cant properly fill up with blood and pump it to the rest of your body, a process that keeps things running smoothly, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. This creates pressure in the blood vessels around the lungs, causing shortness of breath.1
Pulmonary shortness of breath happens in two ways, Tania Elliott, MD, an immunologist and clinical instructor in the department of medicine at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, tells SELF. One is youre so congested that you dont breathe in enough air through your nasal passages, she says. As a result, your lungs dont get enough oxygen.
The other is due to bronchospasm, which happens when the muscles lining the airways in the lungs spasm and constrict, Dr. Elliott says. People can have bronchospasms for many reasons, including asthma.
If you find yourself short of breath and also wheezing or coughing, that may be caused by asthma, John Oppenheimer, MD, a physician at Atlantic Medical Group in New Jersey and a clinical professor of medicine at Rutgers University, tells SELF. Asthma can flare up for numerous reasons, such as exercise or exposure to an allergen.
Check If You Have Hay Fever
Symptoms of hay fever include:
- sneezing and coughing
- a runny or blocked nose
- itchy, red or watery eyes
- itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- loss of smell
- pain around your temples and forehead
If you have asthma, you might also:
- have a tight feeling in your chest
- be short of breath
- wheeze and cough
Hay fever will last for weeks or months, unlike a cold, which usually goes away after 1 to 2 weeks.
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Differences Between Copd And Asthma
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive lung disorder most commonly associated with smoking. In the early stages of the disease, the symptoms may mimic those of asthma and may even flare if the lungs are exposed to allergens, fumes, or cold weather.
Among the differentiating early clues are fluid retention, trouble sleeping, an increasing nagging cough, and bringing up clear, whitish, or yellow phlegm.
Why Do Allergies Cause Shortness Of Breath
Shortness of breath isnt one of the most common allergy symptoms , according to Dr. Elliott. Allergies impact the upper respiratory tract,2 meaning your nose and throat. Generally, people who have allergies experience symptoms affecting the upper respiratory tract, which makes sense because you breathe allergens in through your nose, she says. This explains why your eyes feel itchy and your nose runs after breathing in an allergen such as pollen. But if you have allergic asthma, allergens inflame the lower respiratory tract too, causing the muscles around the airway to narrow, leading to asthma symptoms: shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing, according to the NLM.
Allergies are really common in people with asthma. About 60% of asthma cases in the U.S. are classified as allergic asthma, according to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. If your shortness of breath is accompanied by telltale allergy symptoms, then you may want to schedule a doctors appointment to talk about getting an allergic asthma diagnosis.
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The Triggers Are In Your Environment
While many different substances can trigger allergic asthma, they all have one thing in common: Theyre in the environment, not in your food or your medication.
Pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, mold and pollen can all trigger allergic asthma, says Dr. Purcell.
If pollen or mold trigger the condition, it may occur only seasonally. If your pets or the dust mites on your bedding trigger it, you may suffer year-round, he notes.
Main Causes Of Shortness Of Breath And How To Deal With Them
Shortness of breath is known in medicine as dyspnea and can be due to multiple causes. Whats clear is that its a very unpleasant sensation. Plus, it may be a sign that there are some very serious underlying health problems.
For example, shortness of breath is one of the symptoms of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection, the cause of the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is, therefore, important to know what to do if you suffer from it.
Here are the most common causes and some actions that can be taken.
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Finding A Comfortable And Supported Position
Finding a comfortable and supported position to stand or lie in can help someone relax and catch their breath. If shortness of breath is due to anxiety or overexertion, this remedy is particularly helpful.
The following positions can relieve pressure on a persons airways and improve their breathing:
- sitting forward in a chair, preferably using a table to support the head
- leaning against a wall so that the back is supported
- standing with the hands supported on a table, to take the weight off the feet
- lying down with the head and knees supported by pillows
The Quality Of The Sensation And What It Might Mean
Many things contribute to a sensation of shortness of breath,7 and the symptom breaks down into three messily overlapping qualities, which are interesting but dont tell us much about whats going on, just a couple rough clues:
- Effort: a sensation of excessive work or effort to breathe, like breathing is just a slog. It is loosely associated with impairment of the muscular function and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .
- Tightness: feeling tight may involve actual contstriction of airways as would occur in the early stages of an asthma attack . However, tightness can also be caused by actual spasticity of respiratory muscles, which could be ordinary muscle pain or more serious, like the infamous squeezing hug of multiple sclerosis.
- Air hunger: the most complex sensation, unsatisfied inspiration is described by patients in many ways, like starved for air or my breaths feel too small. Of the treatable causes, it is most clearly associated with anxiety. Although it sure doesnt feel like it, it can occur without any actual loss of respiratory capacity.
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Is It Because I Quit Smoking
But you may not realize that when you stop lighting up, you can have short stints where you can’t catch your breath.
As you smoke, you damage your lungs. It can take a while for them to heal once you’ve stopped. Aside from trouble breathing, you can have:
- Craving for cigarettes or nicotine
When To Get Medical Attention
Trouble breathing, for any reason, is a serious medical concern.
If you have shortness of breath after eating and you have a known food allergy, use your Epi-Pen or other medication and call 911. You may be having a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.
Other health problems, such as COPD or GERD, may contribute to trouble breathing at mealtime. See your healthcare provider to find out why you are having these issues and how to treat them.
If you’re already having treatment for a condition known to cause breathing difficulties, but you still experience shortness of breath after eating, still see your provider. You may need a change in your treatment plan or additional lifestyle modifications.
How To Treat It
Consult your physician before buying over-the-counter remedies for allergens. Some products may worsen your reaction and make it even harder to breathe. You may need a prescription-strength medication to control your allergies. Allergy medicine often contains decongestants, antihistamines or steroids. For some allergies, you may need immunotherapy treatment. When you have an intense allergic reaction that obstructs your airways, you may need an epinephrine injection.
Only a medical professional can diagnose and treat your asthma or allergies, and you should use prescribed medications exactly as directed for the best results. However, there are steps you can take to make your environment more comfortable.
What Does Shortness Of Breath Feel Like
Shortness of breath can be a scary feeling. Its a subjective sensation, meaning it cant be measured. However, doctors can measure other things that may be caused by shortness of breath, such as your blood oxygen levels.
If your blood oxygen level is too low, it means youre not taking in enough oxygen and its not circulating with your red blood cells. This can be dangerous, especially if your blood oxygen levels dip too low.
If youre experiencing shortness of breath, you might feel like you cant get enough air into your lungs and that you cant do it quickly enough.
It may seem as though youre running short on oxygen. It may be more difficult to inhale and exhale. Sometimes you might be compelled to draw a breath before youve even finished exhaling.
Symptoms that appear with shortness of breath may include:
- a tight sensation in your chest
- a feeling of suffocation
- feeling like you need to work harder than normal to catch your breath
- feeling like you need to breathe more often or more quickly
- feeling like your body cant get oxygen quickly enough
- feeling like you cant take full breaths
- difficulty fully catching your breath
You might notice yourself becoming increasingly short of breath over a long period of time, or it could happen out of the blue. Symptoms are often most noticeable when youre physically active, like when you climb stairs or try to exercise, but shortness of breath can happen even if youre at rest.
Get A Good Air Purifier
While a decent HVAC air filter is important for indoor air quality, you can step it up a notch further by getting a mechanical air purifier. These devices use multiple filters and even UV light to remove allergens from the air much more effectively than an HVAC filter alone.
Air purifiers come in a variety of qualities and sizes, and what kind you get depends on your individual needs. You can get a small, portable device for use in a single room or you can even get a large, whole-house air purifier that hooks up to your home’s main ventilation.
Some air purifiers are better than others, and their advertising can be deceptive. Look for air purifiers that are certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to ensure that the one you buy can filter common allergens from the air.
HEPA filters are considered to be one of best high-quality air purifiers and is the gold standard for mechanical air filtration. They use multiple filtration steps and can screen out least 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns or larger from the air.
When To Contact A Doctor
The American Lung Association recommends talking with your doctor whenever you experience shortness of breath that isnt expected due to your current activity and fitness levels. You should also contact your doctor if you dont respond to treatment for shortness of breath.
Other worrying symptoms, together with shortness of breath, that should prompt medical attention include:
- pain or pressure in your chest
- a winded feeling that persists even after youve been resting for 30 minutes
- wheezing or a whistling sound when you inhale and exhale
- a high-pitched sound when you breathe, known as a stridor
- worsening shortness of breath after youve used an inhaler
- difficulty breathing while lying flat on your back
If you have any combination of these symptoms along with shortness of breath, its important to call your doctor or visit an emergency room for immediate medical care.
Being short of breath isnt the same thing as having trouble breathing. When youre having difficulty breathing normally, you might feel like:
- you cant completely inhale or exhale
- your throat or chest are closing up or it feels like theres a squeezing sensation around them
- theres an obstruction, narrowing, or tightening of your airway
- something is physically keeping you from breathing
Difficulty breathing is also an emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
Don’t Fear Spring Allergies And Asthma
- Health & Wellness
- Lung Health and Diseases
It’s finally spring! The days are getting longer, flowers are starting to bloom, the weather is warming up and oh, unfortunately asthma and allergy triggers are making their seasonal appearance.
Pollen is perhaps the most obvious springtime asthma and allergy offender. As flowers, weeds, trees, grass and other plants begin to bloom, they release pollen into the air. If you’re allergic to pollen, you know what happens nextachoo! Sneezes, sniffles and a strong desire to draw the blinds and stay inside for a couple of months. Allergic reactions can cause symptoms in your nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin. Allergies can also trigger symptoms of asthma, making it more difficult to breathe. And pollen isn’t the only spring allergy and asthma trigger. Air pollution and temperature changes can also make your symptoms worse.
But don’t fear. You don’t have to trade your spring kickball league for a Netflix account or wear a hazmat suit to venture outdoors. Follow these tips to ensure your spring is every bit as exciting as it is for Potoka the giraffe.
How To Prevent Allergy Issues
1. Shut your windows.Keep the windows of your home closed to help stop irritants like pollen from entering and sticking around on your furniture and bedding. Use fans and air conditioners to keep your home at a comfortable temperature during warmer months.
2. Clean the air.The CDC says portable air filters can help clean irritants from the air. A high-efficiency particulate air filter, which is at least 99.97 percent effective at capturing particles 0.3 microns in size, can remove airborne particles like dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria. Just be sure to change filters regularly as directed by the brand.
3. Check the air quality.Most local weather reports track levels of allergens in the air, notes Dr. Dharmarajan. There are also several mobile apps, including The Weather Channel and My Pollen Forecast, that track pollen counts digitally. When pollen counts are high, limit your exposure by staying inside. If you must go out, wear glasses to protect your eyes from pollen. Consider wearing a mask to avoid breathing in irritants.
4. Take extra care with yard work.Activities like weeding, raking, and mowing stir up allergens. The American Lung Association recommends doing yard work in the early morning or evening, when pollen counts are lower.